By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Sony Australia chief executive Carl Rose has come out against the numerous negative issues outlined in ACMA’s Digital Television in Australian Homes 2007 report, which stated Australians were uninformed or apathetic about digital TV.

“In contrast to some of the coverage of the results of ACMA’s report, Sony believes that ACMA’s research in fact presents some extremely positive news about the transition to digital TV in Australia,” he said.

“Almost 50 per cent of households have already moved to digital TV. This is a tremendous achievement given that it is really only in the past six months or so that key building blocks have been put in place, such as the announcement of an analogue switch-off date, the introduction of more digital content through the new high definition (HD) channels and Government and industry plans to encourage this transition.”

Rose pointed to what he called significant recent trends, showing the past 12 months had seen the percentage of households watching free-to-air digital TV jump 24 per cent (from 17.1 per cent in 2006 to 41.8 per cent in 2007), as well as a “huge rise” in the number of digital TV sets in Australia.

“Digital capable TV sets now account for over one quarter (25.7 per cent) of the overall stock of televisions, up from only 7.1 per cent in 2005 and 17.1 per cent in 2006,” he said.

“These numbers clearly provide a very solid platform of digital TV usage in Australia, and are set to accelerate rapidly over the next few years.”

Rose said he was confident the right combination of education and awareness about the digital switchover would ensure “no Australian household will be left in the dark about the move to digital”.

Products and content would also help, he said.

“We are committed to working alongside organisations such as ACMA and the Federal Government’s Digital Switchover Taskforce to make this transition as simple – and beneficial – as possible for Australian consumers,” said Rose.

However, he did acknowledge a lack of knowledge was an impediment.

“Around one in five respondents in the report who hadn’t made the move to digital reported that they didn’t know about it. This is a key indicator about the need for greater awareness.

“The new Government has already made some significant inroads in this area by setting a firm analogue signal switch off date, however there is clearly still a job to be done,” he said.

The report stated 66.6 per cent of Australians watched digital television through a set-top box.

“Given the increasing number of TVs coming to market with integrated digital tuners, this will further encourage consumers to make the switch,” said Rose.

Sony’s HD Benchmark (compiled independently by GfK) did reveal HD TV sales have reached over 1.8 million in the past three years – around one fifth of Australia’s homes.